Roger L. Simon

The First Hippie President


Don’t trust anyone over 30.


Bill Clinton, the cliché goes, was the first black president, no matter his skin color. That being the case, Barack Obama is not the first black president, or the first African-American president, if you prefer, but the first hippie president.

Clinton’s southern background and lifestyle were indeed more typically black, just as Obama’s was more typically hippie.

And we’re not just talking about the “Choom gang” here, scarfing “Maui Wowie” on the sands of Oahu. We’re talking about all of it, the whole multi-culti-missing-white-mother-vanished-Kenyan-father-anti-imperialist-America-is-always-the-enemy-and-don’t-you-forget-it-nine-yards. And like most hippie culture as I knew and experienced it, it wasn’t about “peace and love.” Not in the slightest. That was a masquerade — remember Altamont? It was a put-down of “The Man” and violent aggression toward everything that was decent just because it was normal and the status quo. And the methods were — pace Bill Ayers, the Chicago Seven, the Weathermen, et al. — “by any means necessary.” “Burn, baby, burn” whether you were white or black. As Jonah Goldberg eloquently pointed out in his brilliant book, hippie culture was part and parcel of “liberal fascism.”

Which accounts for a lot of where we are today. Trust a hippie to negotiate with the mullahs and trust a hippie, yet more incredibly if reports are true, to negotiate with Hezbollah.

I know. I was one myself. Sort of.

Of course, most of us grew out of it. Obama, however, was late to the party and, like many latecomers, didn’t quite see it for what it was. The hippie period latecomers I have noticed were envious of their forebears and didn’t quite grasp that the whole might have been mere teenage rebellion. Lost in a nostalgia for what they never quite had, they took it all a bit too seriously. (Some of those forebears too, like Tom Hayden, trapped themselves for life in their tired rhetoric. They weren’t able to  grow up and face anything close to reality.)

It’s no accident then that Obama, as the first hippie president, has done little or nothing to help the lives of black people. Quite the contrary. (“Hey, man, everything’s cool. I’m one of you. Later.”) The point of hippie culture was “do your own thing,” right?  So what if your social fabric is falling apart.

It’s also no accident that Obama has found a perfect partner in crime in John Kerry, the first hippie secretary of State. Never mind the seven thousand dollar Armani suits of today, who can forget the old Kerry in his tie-dyes and stringy sixties-seventies do, denouncing his fellow American servicemen as the scions of Genghis Khan (in that pretentious accent, as if anyone could conceivably know how Genghis really pronounced it)? These days the ex-hippies, many of them anyway, wear the most expensive suits. Didn’t David Brooks wax poetic in the New York Times over the crease of Obama’s pants? Hippiedom was always about the clothes you wore as much as anything else. They just changed, leaving the same superficial personalities intact.

So we are in the era when the hippies are negotiating against the Iranians about nuclear weapons. There would be something almost Terry Southern-black comic about it, if civilization didn’t hang in the balance. But, hey, do your own thing, and if that thing happens to be enriching uranium, so be it. I mean Rouhani’s got a beard, right? If he only weren’t over thirty, we could really trust him.

(Artwork psychedelically created using multiple images.)